WE ALL have to live in the world as it is, not as we would like it to be, and so there are many, besides myself, who feel that the well intentioned plan to spend £3.7 million on the Richmond Flats will gradually prove to have been a waste of tax payers’ money.

Even more town centre businesses have closed over the last two weeks, and it now seems unlikely that the footfall can be won back from the out of town shopping centres.

Converting the redundant parts of our town centre into a desirable residential areas would not appear to be the way forward.

One problem is that many High Street buildings are owned by pension funds, who would prefer to have them empty in spite of ongoing maintenance, insurance and security costs.

If they all hold out for the recession to end, then the recession may never end.

I personally could not afford to do this with the High Street shop that I own, since my pension fund with a major company, nearly collapsed. In one instance I had to let it out at half rent to a new business venture.

So as to bring back long empty offices in Honley to full time usage, the planning committee granted planning permission without undue delay for conversion into flats. This allowed the owners, Kirklees Council, to maximise the sale price at auction.

Many householders have recently had to accept a price well under valuation, so as to achieve a sale. If only town centre property owners would do the same.

I understand that one property developer would pay £2 million tomorrow for Oldgate House instead of the £3 million quoted.

I have heard similar regarding other empty buildings, including the former Co-op, Inland Revenue and YMCA buildings, and also St John’s Road, what’s left of it.

After the successful brownfield Hopkinsons development which has enhanced the Birkby areas, I feel quite sure that the new Greenhead Village, on the six acre former Kirklees College site, would do the same for our town centre. The listed former hospital building with its magnificent Corinthian pillars would make some very upmarket apartments, with other sought after units on site.

With trains from their doorstep, direct to Manchester Airport, with a wide variety of international cuisine, charismatic coffee shops, out of town markets, brand new sports centre, 24 hour Tesco, impressive listed buildings, quaint Victorian arcades and specialist retailers, this has to be a viable development. Some big property developers are already interested, if the owners will sell at a realistic price.

One alternative is to reluctantly allow freeland demolition firms to dismantle the buildings, free of charge in return for the sale price of the salvaged materials only, just like with St John’s Road and St Luke’s Hospital.

It would be tragic if others, such as Newsome Mills are soon added to this list, through prolonged disputes over planning permission.

Our economic recovery needs to be led by reforms to our planning system to promote town centre and brownfield redevelopment, with strict controls to ensure compliance with the granted plans, and not the unnecessary destruction of our cherished green spaces.

It was good news to read that the long empty, listed Crimea pub, is soon to be auctioned with planning permission granted for conversion into three houses.

This will maximise the sale price for the owner, as he offloads a liability.

It will also create much needed new jobs, and housing which is in everyone’s best interest.

Stephen Hirst


Huge thanks

I FEEL I must put pen to paper to say a very big thank you to Christine Doyle, my occupational therapist.

My whole house, thanks to Christine, has been adapted to my special needs. I am disabled and Christine has given me a great deal of help towards my severe pain and discomfort, enabling me to have a good quality of life.

I know I am not on my own in saying this but from the many others Christine and her team have been there for. A huge thank you to you and your team Christine.

Sylvia Mattle


Vital role

FURTHER to my recent letter in your pages I would like to thank your paper, and its readers, for the invaluable role they played in maximising responses to Prostate Cancer UK’s survey on the importance of new medicines to people with cancer.

Thanks to your support, Prostate Cancer UK, and a consortium of over a dozen leading cancer charities, were able to make strong representations to the government over its plans to make changes to the way drugs are priced across the country.

These changes are likely to have a significant impact on millions of people living with cancer throughout the UK, which is why it is so important that the voice of patients was heard.On the back of your readers’ input, the charities have published a report that provides crucial insight into patient opinion on these vitally important changes, also setting out key recommendations about how the new system should work.

It finds that people affected by cancer demand a central role in negotiating the new system’s design and outlines what they value in terms of the benefits medicines can provide.

Furthermore it warns that ignoring the views of patients risks seriously undermining the credibility and effectiveness of the new system before it has even been established.

The report is being presented to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and the Department of Health.

It’s time we, the people to whom these negotiations matter most, are put at their heart rather than being kept out on the sidelines.

To view a copy of the report please visit www.prostatecanceruk.org/valuebasedpricing.

Stuart Watson

Patient Representative, Prostate Cancer UK

Seating plan

I SEE that one in 10 shops in town centres are empty.

Well why doesn’t Kirklees do something about the empty units in the arcade leading to Queensgate Market? One or two of them could be opened up and seats provided for people to rest before possibly visiting the market.

Backless seats would ensure they don’t stop long but during the cold and wet months to come, they might help to keep people in town longer to shop. It makes sense!

Tired Legs

Brilliant night

I WOULD like to thank Kirklees College for a wonderful evening last Thursday at Dewsbury Town Hall, for the College Outstanding Learner Success Awards.

I have never been to an awards ceremony before or had an award presented to me.

It was nice to see so many young people there getting awards.

It’s really down to our tutors who are so good at teaching us our skills, and other staff who are so helpful. Thanks everyone for a brilliant night.

Eddie Sykes